There is an effort among downtown churches and outreach organizations toward greater connectedness in communicating what each other is doing to assist those in need. This presents us with opportunities to support what is already happening and to finds ways to take on new initiatives as we discern what needs are not being met with the vulnerable among us. John Denning has developed a practicum focused on assisting us in St. Dunstan's to have great vision, focus and action in this ministry. The Parish Pastoral Council and Parish Finance Council will keep this as a key area for discernment and action, helping us improve our care for those in need.
St. Dunstan's has been very generous in contributing to the Food Bank. Our parish accelerates its support to the Greener Village Community Food Centre during the season of Lent by donating food products needed by its food bank. Each week items requested via the parish bulletin are collected at church entrances.
This past Lenten season the six weekly donations, each of which filled the back of a mini-van, were received by Greener Village with great appreciation. Most products requested would have otherwise had to be purchased by Greener Village, so the St. Dunstan's food donations helped alleviate increased pressure on the food bank resources during a time of peak need by its clients. This action in our parish provides an opportunity to learn and respond to poverty in our Fredericton community.
The values that guide the Christmas Exchange flow from the general mission of St. Dunstan's Parish: outreach in service to others, parishioners and non-parishioners alike. The Christmas exchange serves families with love, respect and support. The Christmas Exchange puts into practice the mission of the Hospitality Committee through the act of welcoming members of the greater Fredericton community, who look to St. Dunstan's for support at Christmas time.
Members of the Exchange ministry appreciate the role St. Dunstan's plays in making lives a bit brighter during the Christmas season. In this way, folks coming to the Exchange are welcome without judgment or prejudice, but within the spirit of the Christian ideal that "All guests who present themselves are to be welcome as Christ." The Exchange values assisting those who come to us with their needs as well as their Christmas wishes.
The work of the Christmas Exchange ministry grows from the ground of abundance - abundant spirit, abundant optimism, abundant faith, and an abundant sense of possibility. At its heart, it is creative work rooted in love that values imagination and trusts its positive outcome to God. In this way we look to the Spirit to move, guide and create in exciting and original ways opportunities for everyone who participates to celebrate God's joyous exchange of Christmas giving and receiving.
To be named later
Canadian Catholic Missions
St. Dunstan's continues to promote a deepening relationship with Canadian Catholic Missions through the subscription of their monthly magazine that we make available to parishioners at the entrance of the Church. We also promote giving to this mission through the specified collection we have each year.
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
St. Dunstan's has an active group who organize the Fall Campaign and Lenten activities for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. There has been an emphasis on education through the many Development and Peace posters and pamphlets that we provide at the Church entrances. On Solidarity Sunday, Development and Peace make a presentation at each of the Masses.
In November 2015 St. Dunstan's formed a refugee sponsorship team to welcome the Al Keleif family from Syria. Approximately 30 people were involved and closely linked to the Al Keleif family's journey of settling into Fredericton, welcoming a new child, getting established with work, school, medicare and recreation, and the sharing of our cultures and growing in our love, respect and appreciation of each other.
Even though our official sponsorship role was completed in January 2017, we continue to be mutually engaged in each other's lives and are amazed and grateful for the many blessings that have been bestowed on us through this relationship.